Film: Matchstick Men

I’ve been up for twenty-six hours but it’s only 6:30. If I lay down now, it’s dreamland ‘til 3:00, then twisting in bed until 7:00, trying to find my lost slumber. I pull up to the megaplex , absorb the posters, and cross-reference the show times. Ah, Nic Cage stars, Ridley Scott directs—one ticket for Matchstick Men, please. The previews roll through and I think to myself that Tom Cruise looks like a badass in his upcoming Samurai movie. The credits start and they’re stylish in a Rat Pack way; this movie has potential, I think.

Fifteen minutes in and the film’s over for me. Nic Cage is The Neurotic Con Man Who Just Needs Love. Alison Lohman hasn’t graced the screen, but the possibility of a long-lost child has been mentioned, so her part’s an easy pick. Neurotic Nic’s already been through the fetching grocery store clerk’s line twice, so you that’s a Big Hint. Sam Rockwell plays Cage’s partner-in-crime and apprentice; ever see a flick where the con man gets conned? Dear Director Ridley Scott: Please make your films less predictable.

I try to send Nic Cage’s character a telepathic communiqué: you have a swimming pool / go swimming with her / you haven’t been laid in 15 years / molest this so-called daughter who is conning you. Father Thief doesn’t touch his nymphet daughter, though; he gets suckered. The characters are likeable, and I feel genuine emotion when one or another’s screwing the other over, or doing something Good—it’s a shame to see fine acting and high production values in a movie as formulaic as a Punch and Judy show.

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